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:: The Italian Job

This film has been re-interpreted from the 1969 version of The Italian Job, which starred Michael Caine. Enough has changed to see the films in a completely different light. There are the similar plot lines, but the intents and motivations of the thieves is different and this is less light-hearted (There are no Benny Hills or Noel Cowards here). Differences from the original are that the original film was British, set in Italy, and funnier. The result is a terrific piece of filmmaking to make this film entertaining, good-looking, and high energy.

Right from the start, we get down to business. The team of thieves is in action in Venice, Italy, where they capture $34million in gold bars. These specialists execute the theft beautifully under the mastermind, Charlie Croker (Mark Wahlberg). His genius at breaking, entering, and escaping has been perfected after learning the ropes from his mentor John Bridger (Donald Sutherland), a top-notch safe cracker. However, the team’s “inside man”, Steve (Edward Norton), pulls off a double-cross which results in him escaping with the entire fortune and the murder of John Bridger.

Obviously, it’s now a matter of retribution for the team. They bring in Bridger’s daughter Stella (Charlize Theron), who has her own safe-cracking skills and wishes vengeance for her father’s murder. It’s a tough ask for her as she has previously cracked safes for FBI purposes. Twelve months on, they track down Steve in Los Angeles and Charlie instigates a new plan that will be more intricate than the caper in Venice. The Venice team is reassembled for another sophisticated safe-cracking sting: the largest traffic jam in Los Angeles. Complications arise with a series of snappy twists and sly alterations to Charlie’s plan. Steve becomes aware of what’s happening and attempts to foil his old mates.

Director F Gary Gray provides a crisp, sharp-edged film that satisfies, and the cast is full of personality and wit. Wahlberg and Theron look very good together,. Norton is well suited to his crooked capers, while the supporting cast does a really good job. Seth Green is good as the computer geek and rapper Mos Def is surprisingly adept as a member of Charlie’s team. Gray keeps Wahlberg’s emotions to a minimum and his attention on being tough. Theron has the grown-up, girl-next-door look but underlies a cool, blonde lustre and intelligence.

“The Italian Job” delivers a rush of speed. The heists are elaborate and the comic touches are worthy. However, Gray takes care in the tensions and connections between the characters. Then, there are the Mini Coopers, the newly designed English cars that play a big part in the film. The fleet of Minis is used to make a getaway that involves seemingly impassable byways and Los Angeles’ subway system. They look pretty cool and were specially built for this film as electric-powered cars. The car chases are well co-ordinated. The cinematography is clear and energetic and the elaborate action sequences make this a terrific action movie.

Screening on general release.